What I’m Looking for at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference

Next week (June 18th through the 20th) I’ll be at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. It will be jam packed with all kinds of exciting companies that promise to transform business through social communication and collaboration. I fully expect to see many companies I’ve never heard of and quite a few that I know well. The full spectrum of social technology (and theory) will be on display for everyone to see.

There are a number of things I hope to see and a few I hope to avoid. Here are a few of my “do want” and “don’t want” items:

  • I do want to see more enterprise features. There should be a conversation or two about how to back up and restore, archive, and manage large scale Social Enterprise software installation. Everyone says that social communications and collaboration applications are mission critical and it’s about time they acted like they were. Otherwise, no IT manager worth their paycheck will advocate spending money on these solutions.
  • I don’t want to hear any more stories about how you can build a viable business with 100K subscribers and only a 2.5% conversion rate to paid ones. Do the math. Even a generous 5% conversion rate translates to 5000 paying seats which, at a typical $15/user/month (or less) subscription, will be around $900,000 a year. At that rate most investors will not be making back their money anytime soon.
  • I do want to see more workflow capabilities but want them to be easy to use for the average end-user. I know that’s hard but that’s why we pay product designers and software engineers well. End-users will not become regular users of the social tools placed in front of them until these tools can enhance the work do every day in their jobs. Collaboration happens in the context of getting work done or it’s just Facebook. Facebook works pretty well already so I don’t get why we need 15 more of them. Let’s get some work done.
  • I don’t want to see more applications that look like Facebook. In the enterprise social network segment, so many products look the same that it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. I’m all for familiar UI elements but there must be something different in the corporate environment that affects the UI.
  • I do want to see more use of social communications and collaborations to better leverage human capital. I hate the phrase “human capital” because it dehumanizes where Social Enterprise does the opposite. Still, managers need to be able to make the best use of the talents that people have. They can’t do that until they know what those talents are. Social Enterprise software can unlock potential by discovering the hidden capabilities that people have.
  • I don’t want to see any more social media management software that allows marketers to reach out to customers by violating privacy. Some of what I’ve seen lately is pretty creepy. Sure, you might get some short term revenue by cyberstalking. It’s the long term effects I would worry about. Who wants to be the new kind of spam?

More than anything, I want to see how social collaboration and communications software help people get their work done. No more philosophy lessons. Let’s get down to getting down to work.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility